Missing Wills raises all sorts of interesting legal issues which often turn on the specific facts and circumstances, and the law of the state in which the deceased resided.
The Will may be missing because the deceased intentionally revoked it, in which case, depending on state law, an earlier Will or the state’s rules on intestate succession would determine who gets the deceased’s estate.
California Probate Code Section 6124 contains a presumption that a lost Will was intentionally revoked by the Testator under certain circumstances:
If the testator’s will was last in the testator’s possession, the testator was competent until death, and neither the will nor a duplicate original of the will can be found after the testator’s death, it is presumed that the testator destroyed the will with intent to revoke it. This presumption is a presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence.
It is possible to overcome this presumption through evidence. However, it is strongly recommended that you retain qualified legal counsel to assist you with this issue.